12:22, August 07 43 0 theguardian.com

2019-08-07 12:22:04
Other lives  Sue Owen obituary

My mother, Sue Owen, who has died of breast cancer aged 69, had a long and distinguished career in children’s care. Her first love, and continued passion, was for childminding, which she believed was unjustly criticised and misunderstood – and on which she became one of the UK’s foremost experts. She fought for better training and qualifications for childminders, and for their work to be given higher value in society.

She was born in London, to Bridget (nee Madden), an accountant at Harrods, and Owen Owen, an electrician for the Metropolitan police, employed at Scotland Yard. Introduced to ballroom dancing at an early age by her parents, Sue went to Frank and Peggy Spencer’s ballroom dance school in Penge, and won many prizes, even performing as a background dancer in the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour film.

She went to Beckenham grammar school, and spent summers in north Wales with her aunt, the writer Dyddgu Owen. Dyddgu first stimulated Sue’s interest in travel and children through the Welsh travel guides and children’s books she wrote. While at Manchester University studying American studies, Sue volunteered in local playgroups, and after her degree she worked as a playgroups organiser for Manchester city council, from 1971.

During this time she also helped with research on a BBC series on childminding, Other People’s Children (1977), which was the catalyst for the launch of the National Childminding Association (NCMA) later that year.

Sue met her first husband, the artist Dennis Duerden, while living in Manchester. He was teaching at the University of California in Santa Cruz, so they moved there in 1977. Sue used her data as the basis for a PhD at UC Santa Cruz, on the growth of professionalism in childminding. The couple returned in 1981 to live in London, where I was born in 1985.

Sue worked as an information officer for the NCMA (now known as Pacey) and also advised on the drafting of the 1989 Children Act. At the end of her career she spent a long period in various director roles at the National Children’s Bureau, from where she retired in 2013.

Dennis died in 2007, and in 2016 Sue married the former MP Ednyfed Hudson Davies. She lived during her last years in the New Forest, in Hampshire.

Ednyfed died in 2018. She is survived by me and my daughter, Olivia.

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